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New Measures to Control Bird Flu Set up

by 5m Editor
16 March 2009, at 9:07am

INDIA - It has been proposed to set up a five-kilometre zone free of poultry along the border with Bangladesh in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.

The Centre in Kolkata has proposed that areas within five kilometres of the international border with Bangladesh will be kept poultry-free, in a strategy to prevent avian influenza from flaring up in border states like Assam and West Bengal. This area will be called Zone I.

The report in The Statesman continues that authorities suspect that the H5N1 virus which afflicted the backyard poultry in the state, last year as well as this year, had its origin in Bangladesh.

Areas between five and ten kilometres of the border will be designated as Zone II. In this zone, the Union Agriculture Ministry has proposed that integrated companies will be asked to develop and demonstrate a 'secure model of poultry rearing' before the local population. These integrated companies will distribute chicks among the local populace and ensure hygienic conditions and will buy back the reared birds at a later stage.

This will improve the rewards of poultry rearing and prevent bird flu in an unorganised sector, according to officials of the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries of government of India.

The Centre has also asked the state animal resources department to identify areas and the poultry population in these areas along the international border to implement the strategy.

According to the 2006 animal census conducted by state ARD department, the current poultry population in Zone I is more than 4.7 million, with a further 5.2 million in Zone II.

The Centre has proposed that initially this should be taken up in a small area and then it can be introduced in the rest of the border areas in a phased manner.

However, in recent pasts it has been seen that owners of backyard poultry defying culling orders or ban on transportation after outbreak of bird flu in neighbouring areas even after an awareness drive. Hence, state government officials are sceptical about implementation of the strategy, particularly about keeping Zone I free of backyard poultry.

Culling begins in Kurseong

The Statesman continues that culling operations were due to begin at Barachenga village in Kurseong sub-division on 14 March after samples tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), official sources said.

Dwibbendu Das told PTI, "Twenty teams have been engaged to cull around 11,000 birds. A control room has been set up at Pintal village, near here." Poultry within a three-kilometre radius area of the village will be culled and eggs will be destroyed, he added. Chicken deaths were reported in the village under Panighta block on 12 March, following which samples were sent to HSDL laboratory in Bhopal for testing, which confirmed the outbreak of the disease on 14 March.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.